DIY Modern Maple Coffee Table

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DIY Modern Maple Coffee Table

This DIY modern maple coffee table was the first time I had combined metal and wood in a furniture project. I always wanted to try mixing the two mediums, but just had never done it. Watch the video of me making it and let me know if you would build something similar. 

Background

We recently bought a new sofa, in a totally different style for us: modern. We have grown to like the mid-century style that you see a lot right now, and it was time for a change, so we listed our sofa and oversized chair that matched on Facebook, and it was gone within a week.  

Now what? 

Here we were, wanting a new sofa, but had not finished our search for one yet. And now, we had NOTHING to sit on in the living room!  it was a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. 

The sofa we found was modern, or probably better classified as “transitional,” and the price was right, so we scooped it up. It had these feet that were kind of squarish and tapered on all sides. It made the sofa look BARELY modern, so we wanted to swap out the feet for something more mid-century. That’s where Kyle Toth came in. I reached out to him, asking if he would be able to turn some feet for the sofa, and what look we were going for. We went back and forth on wood type and some other specifics, and then he went to town. (This is not a post about our sofa feet, so I will just keep it at that for now.) The light color of the maple sofa feet made us want to upgrade our more traditional coffee table and end table.

Tools & Materials

Table saw
Miter saw
Drill & impact driver
Festool Domino
Router
Chisels
Sander
Polyurethane

Design

Legs

A long time ago, I had settled on wanting to use some sort of flat steel legs, although I wasn’t sure the exact shape I wanted the legs to be. I found some sites that made this type of coffee table leg, but when I saw one of Mike Montgomery’s videos where he featured some cool coffee table legs made a company called Industrial By Design, it solidified in my mind what I wanted to do. They have reasonable prices, and I liked the style of the flat steel legs they sell, so I bought some steel trapezoid legs from them at the standard, coffee table height of 16”.

The Top

I looked all over for some designs that I liked. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a single slab, pieces that were glued into a panel or even a panel with breadboard ends. We knew we wanted the top of the new coffee table to match the new sofa feet, so it needed to be maple. I called my lumber supplier and asked about some figured maple and he told me he had some spalted maple in stock, but it was pricey. I figured up how many board feet I needed for the whole project and decided I would go with the spalted maple. I went to his warehouse only to find that the spalted maple he was referring to was in whole slabs, starting at $825! They were beautiful, but I didn’t need that much wood, and for this type of thing, he could not just cut off a piece and let me buy that. I decided that I would just get some 8/4 maple, that’s 2” thick, and work with whatever character the wood presented. 

I paid them a little extra to joint one side, since these were over 10” wide, and my jointer is only 6.” That helped a lot. I also knew the length I wanted the coffee table, so I had them cut them into 4 pieces that were about 42” long. I think the board was about 14’ long at first.

Upon getting the boards home, we decided we wanted the coffee table to be thinner than originally planned. I could get the width we desired from only 3 of the boards. I ran them through my planer so I could see the grain better on both sides, and decide on the orientation of the boards for the panel.

I got to use a Festool Domino for the second time on this project. A neighbor owns one and he said I could borrow it for this. I wanted to use the Domino for aligning the pieces in the panel. I used the largest ones he had, I believe they were 10mm x 50mm. It took me a little while to get it dialed in where the mortise the machine drills out was in the middle of my board, but I eventually got it.

The glue-up went well using the dominos to keep everything aligned. However, I was a little disappointed at the slight unevenness of the panel after I glued them all together. Maybe I didn’t have them perfectly flat or some of them warped a bit after I got them ready, but I had to do a lot of sanding to get the table top level and smooth. That is supposed to be the point of using dowels or dominoes for alignment when making a panel, but it has just not been my experience. Multiple times, I have had ridges at the intersection of the boards, and have had to work very hard to get them flat. This is especially difficult on a large panel like this, because it will not fit through my planer. Therefore, all of the flattening must be done by a sander or hand plane.

The Dutchmen

I started with a piece of paper, laying it over the large crack at one end of the table. I left this crack as a point of attention, but wanted to use some Dutchmen, sometimes called bow ties, of a contrasting wood for even more visual appeal. At first, I drew out 6 Dutchmen, all in varying shapes. However, upon looking at them on the board, I thought it was a little too busy and they were all a little too close together. I later eliminated a few of them and dropped the number down to 3. They were all quite a bit larger than previously drawn too.

I went to my walnut scraps and found some that would work for the Dutchmen. I used the paper templates I had made to draw onto the walnut, and then cut them out at the bandsaw. Once they were all three cut out, I clamped them up and used a chisel to pair the sides down smooth, as well as putting a slight chamfer on the downward facing side. This aids in adding these to the mortise that will be cut into the table top later on.

Once happy with the overall shape of the Dutchmen, I positioned them on the table top over the crack, and used a pencil to transfer the outside shape.

Inlay

For as much material removal as possible, I used my palm router with a 1/8” spiral upcut bit. This made for quick work of most of the mortise, leaving me some around the edges to clean up with a chisel. I’m sure that the chisel work would not have taken others more experience with such things, but for me, this took a couple of hours. I eventually got them where they fit snugly, but not too snugly. I then mixed up some two part epoxy, added in some very find walnut dust to thicken the epoxy and color it, and hammered the Dutchmen into place.

The Dutchmen were left proud of the table top by at least 1/8”, so after the epoxy was dry, I used my hand place to bring the walnut down closer to the height of the table top. I used my orbital sander to do the rest. Then, I worked on through the grits of sandpaper, finishing with 220 grit. At this point, it was pretty much ready for finish.

FINISH

I started out using an equal-part blend of boiled linseed oil, polyurethane and mineral spirits, but it made this particular wood incredibly blotchy. I'm not sure what was going on, but I didn't really like it at all. Once it dried, I sanded it off so I could start over. 

I then opted for just plain polyurethane, and I am happy with the result. It really brought some of the wood's character, and I put on about 3 coats, sanding inbetween with 320 grit sandpaper. 

STEPS

1. Get some 8/4 (8 quarter) wood and mill it into the size you would like

2. Use some method for joining the boards: domino, dowels, biscuits, or simple glue edge

3. Sand or scrape them flat

4. Trim to size

5. Mark out bow ties

6. Cut bow ties

7. Finish sand

8. Apply finish

9. Clean legs and seal

10. Attach legs

Conclusion

This was a fun project, and we have really enjoyed the design that it brings to our house. Thanks for checking out the project and the video. I'd love to see it if you build one yourself. Tag me on Instagram @Brudaddy if you build one. Also, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below or in the comments section on YouTube. 

See you next time!

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Shop Tour 2017 - A Fresh Start

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Shop Tour 2017 - A Fresh Start

A FRESH START

A few weeks ago, we had some electrical work done in the shop. It was very underpowered, so we added a 100 amp panel, many more 120w outlets and 4 separate circuits, including 220w service.

Take a look at the shop tour video. This shop is pretty much a fresh start, and I will be improving it from here: 

 

BACKGROUND

We have been in this house for almost 3 years now, but until about a year and a half ago, I was not doing nearly the amount of woodworking I am now. My wife and I came to the decision to let the cars live outside, allowing me to turn it into more of a shop. 

I quickly found out how underpowered my circuitry in the garage was, once I started using some tools. I would throw a breaker pretty much every time I would try to use my shop vac for dust collection in conjunction with the thickness planer. After you do that about 8 times in a row, it gets a little old. Oh, and did I tell you that our breaker box is upstairs? Yeah, what a pain. 

QUOTES

I got quite a few quotes from electricians...I think 5 in total. One quoted me something like $5,500. That was a ridiculous price for the work I was asking to be done, and frankly, I think that was his "go away" price that he gave me. And the one I went with quoted be $1,600 to do the same work. I checked into his background and he was a licensed electrician with a large commercial contractor here, and just did this kind of work on the side. After meeting with him, I felt comfortable using him. 

WORK

I worked it out with the electrician for me to run the aluminum service wire through the attic to save some money on his estimate. This was a good bit of work, but I was willing to do it to save money. Plus, I was more familiar with the attic than he was. He told me what aluminum service wire to get. We calculated it would be about 100 feet of wire needed. I went ahead and picked up about 120 feet, since I didn't want to be short after all of this effort. It was about $1.50 per foot, so an extra 20 feet was not enough to justify running out. I did have more than plenty left over, but that's ok. (HINT: if you have leftover aluminum service wire, you can make your own homemade gear ties.)

Once he was done, I was more than pleased with the quality of work. He did a fantastic job! All of the conduit was bent on site and you could tell he had commercial experience. He was very particular about how everything looked, so he was even a stickler about which way the metal clips that held the pipe to the wall were turned. Also, he asked if I had some silicone so he could put it around where he cut into the soffit and where the pvc pipe went into the attic. "I don't want you to have any wasps getting in there," he said. I thought that was over-and-above as far as service goes. 

Thanks for taking a look a this project. I'd love to hear what you think below!

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Industrial Towel Rack

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Industrial Towel Rack

CONCEPT

After completing the shiplap walls in our master bathroom, we needed a place to hang our towels again. You see, we didn't much like the standard towel bars that we had before. The large garden tub that we have makes it extremely difficult to reach the standard towel bars and actually hang up a towel. Plus, with there being two of us, you could only put one on each wall, therefore taking up two walls. We wanted some art to be on one wall, so we had to find a solution that worked better for hanging towels and could be contained on one wall. 

VIDEO

Watch my video of how I made this industrial towel rack out of scrap maple that I had lying around the shop and keep reading below for even more details about the build:

TOOLS & SUPPLIES

Below is a list of tools and supplies I used in this project: (affiliate links)

Table saw
Miter saw
Drill
Impact driver
Flush trim saw
Router
Chisels
Random orbital sander

DESIGN

I set out to use some scrap wood for this project for two reasons: I had some on hand, and I wanted the scrap to help determine what the design of the towel rack would be. Often, if you put some restraints on yourself, you will find you get more creative to work within those limitations and are more pleased with the result. 

I had some walnut and maple off cuts I picked up from a friend, David Dill, from D+P Design Build. I think they were from some huge conference tables he had built. He builds some massive and impressive stuff. Quickly, my wife and I realized that we liked the look of the lighter maple against the light gray of our new shiplap wall

At first, we thought it should just be a rectangular shape, but the more I looked at the scrap of maple that I had, I saw an angled shape that would be much more visually interesting. 

STEPS

1. layout your design

The design is totally up to you. Do as I did and let the piece of wood speak to you or set out to design something before you even get in the shop. Either way, you can't go wrong. 

2. cut to fit

My large crosscut sled has come in handy for this type of thing more times than I can count. Since it has a zero clearance cutout, I can just line up my piece with that cutout on the sled and it comes out just like I want it. 

3. Mill boards

I needed to glue a few parts to get the thickness I needed, so I first jointed one face and edge of my scraps, in order to get a good glue bond. 

4. glue 

You'll notice some smaller-than-usual hands helping me in this video. That is Alan, my oldest child. He has really started liking to be in the shop with me recently, so I try to include him whenever possible. He was not always interested, and I didn't push him, so I guess he is just coming around now out of his own desire. It's fun. 

Sometimes, you have to glue some pieces together to make the components that you need. For some of my parts, I didn't have any scrap thick enough, so I glued two pieces together. 

5. thickness

I used my planer to get the boards I previously glued together down to final thickness. 

6. Rabbet

I made a series of cuts (rabbet) on one of my boards so it will cover the end of the main piece. This allows for a lot of surface area for glue to really hold. 

7. Inlay

There was a little bad spot in my work piece, so I decided to add an inlay accent. Rather than some other traditional shape like a bow tie, I wanted to just make one up. I spent some time, drawing out a shape that I thought looked pleasing, and then I transferred that to a slightly contrasting scrap I had. It was actually honey locust wood.

Once I cut out the inlay piece, I put it on my work piece and traced around it. 

I got rid of the bulk of the material using my router, staying clear of my lines. 

I cleaned up the rest of the shape with my chisels. 

I taped off the side of the piece so the epoxy would stop from running off of the edge. Then, I mixed up some of this West System epoxy. 

I added in some fine, walnut dust that I keep on hand to thicken the epoxy a bit and give it a nice, dark color. I learned this trick from Jon Peters, and he noted that he likes to use a color of wood darker than the piece you are working on. I have found that I like that as well. 

I cleaned up a the bulk of the dried epoxy with my hand plane, and then sanded the rest of it away. 

8. counterbore

I counter bored some partially-through holes in the end piece, so I could have the heads of the screws I'll later be using sit far below the surface. 

9. cut plugs and counter sink

I countersunk the holes just a bit so the screws would sit down nicely, and not obstruct the plugs I was going to use. 

I used my plug cutting bits in the drill press to make some plugs out of the same honey locust wood that I used for the inlay piece. I hammered them into place and then let the glue dry. 

10. trim flush

Then, I used a flush cut saw to get rid of the bulk of the plug material, sanding afterward. 

The piece I had glued together earlier was then split in half so it could eventually allow each part of the towel rack to swing independently. 

11. hinges

Next, I marked the location of all of the hinges, so I could mortise out the pieces to accept them. 

12. pipe

I cleaned up the stickers on the galvanized pipe with a razor. The stubborn parts that remained sticky got treated with some acetone, and that took it right off. I also used some files to quickly knock off any burr that was on the pipes. I didn't want anything to snag our towels. I also washed the pipes with just dish soap and water. I have found that this removes the greasy residue that is often found on these pipes. Be sure to dry them thoroughly or you will see some rust. 

I cut some holes in each piece to receive a pipe cap. I used some 5 minute epoxy to secure these in place. 

13. Finish

I like to use lacquer when possible. This project will probably not see much use and abuse on the actual wooden parts, so lacquer was a perfect finish. I love how I can apply multiple coats within a reasonable amount of time with lacquer. In Mississippi where I live, it is pretty much always humid. The humidity level seems to constantly present problems when applying finish to a project. I have had glue or paint that is still not just tacky, but actually still wet 12 hours after application. That is just bonkers! Lacquer seems to work well here. 

I put on more than 5 very light coats of lacquer, sanding between some coats with 320 grit sandpaper. I usually spray on 2 coats before I ever sand. I know some people say that you should not sand between coats of lacquer, but I have not found that to be the case. I get a really smooth finish sanding between coats, so I'm just sticking with that. 

14. assembly

All that is left is to assemble everything together, now that the finish has dried. For most of it, I used a screwdriver. These little screws for the hinges would strip very easily using a drill or driver, I'm afraid. 

The finished product turned out fantastic! We have been using it for a few weeks now, and love the ability to have each towel swing out at us so we can grab it more easily. It has simplified our lives and helped to improve the style of our master bathroom. 

Let me know your thoughts below in the comments. And let me know if you build something like this. I'd love to see it! Tag me on Instagram @Brudaddy

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